No boom without more bucks for Bainbridge’s 4th of July

Kitsap Sun Article – Posted June 9, 2011
By Tristan Baurick

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND —The organizers of Eagle Harbor’s Fourth of July fireworks display have lined up the tug boat, the barge, the music and 1,300 sky-shaking shells.

Now, all they need is the money to pay for it.

A newly-formed nonprofit called Bainbridge Island Fireworks is taking over the annual show from the Bainbridge Island Yacht Club, which restarted the tradition two years ago.

They need a minimum $18,000 by June 25. As of Wednesday, only about a third of that amount had been raised.

“It’s a real stressor,” said Scott Isenman, the show’s project manager. “With the economy the way it is, a lot of our commercial sponsors have said they can’t contribute as much. So this is a huge risk for us.”

If Bainbridge Island Fireworks can’t raise the full amount, it might have to cut back on the 15-minute show’s duration or the synchronized music that viewers can hear via a small-range radio broadcast. Canceling the show hasn’t been ruled out.

“We’re taking a positive approach,” Isenman said. “But compared to last year, I’m a Nervous Nelly.”

The BIYC revived the harbor’s large-scale fireworks display tradition in 2009 after a more than two-decade hiatus.

Isenman, who serves as BIYC’s vice commodore, said the fireworks show was a bit beyond the club’s boating-oriented scope.

“So this year, we formed a nonprofit corporation to take on the fundraising,” he said.

Bainbridge Island Fireworks would like to raise as much as $25,000 this year — about $7,000 more than is needed for 2011’s display — so funds are available to get the effort going earlier and faster in 2012.

“We want to avoid starting cold every year,” Isenman said.

Islanders began calling for a revived fireworks display after the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bainbridge Island Police Department and some residents began expressing concerns a few years ago about the noise, fire dangers and enforcement challenges caused by private firework use.

In April 2009, the city considered a ban on all fireworks except for permitted displays like the one BIYC organized later that year.

The ban never took effect, but BIYC’s shows appear to have curbed firework use.

“We have seen a decline in fires, and we attribute that to the public fireworks display,” said Bainbridge Fire Chief Hank Teran, adding that the department has also increased its effort to educate the public about firework dangers.

In 2008, before the BIYC display, the Fire Department responded to four fires caused by fireworks. In 2009 and 2010, only two firework-related fires occurred each July, Teran said.

Despite the lessening fire danger, BIYC’s first fireworks show in 2009 sparked noise complaints from animal owners, particularly those with horses in the Eagledale neighborhood on the harbor’s south shore.

Last year generated fewer complaints, likely because animal owners anticipated the event.

Bainbridge Island Fireworks has advice on its website,, about how to prepare pets for the show.

“Before, people didn’t know it was happening, and it seemed so loud and sudden,” Isenman said. “I think now people are more aware and they can make sure their animals are prepared.”

Even if the show puts off a few people, hundreds more are delighted by what Isenman said has been a long-standing island tradition.

“Last year, the disc jockey gave the signal for people to give us a sign they were watching,” he said. “All of a sudden all these cars and boats started honking at the ferry parking lot, at Pritchard Park — all over the area. That was some great feedback.”

Donations for the Eagle Harbor fireworks show can be made via PayPal at Bainbridge Island Fireworks’ website or at Viking Bank’s Bainbridge branch, 921 Hildebrand Lane. For information, send an email to

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